When the New York Islanders won their first Stanley Cup Playoff Series in 23 years in 2016 it was Thomas Greiss in the net. On Saturday night, with the Islanders playing in the franchise’s biggest game in 27 years, it was Thomas Greiss again in goal to backstop them to a victory.
Thomas Greiss cemented his place in Islanders history with his 16 save effort on Saturday as the Islanders shutout the Philadelphia Flyers and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1993. The milestone victory was made even more impressive by the fact that Greiss was only starting in his second game of the postseason.
The situation didn’t faze the ever calm, cool and collected Greiss though. The Islanders netminder came out sharp through the 60-minute affair and he recorded his first career playoff shutout.
Greiss came away with the timely saves that the Islanders didn’t get in Game 6. For instance, in the second period, he made a good save on a deflection attempt by Jakub Voracek.
— Andrew Battifarano (@AndrewAtBatt) September 6, 2020
“It’s just fun,” Greiss said about his performance and the shutout. “I’m just happy, more happy, that the team advances. Huge win for us and it’s unreal how well the guys played.”
Greiss had taken a rather winding road to get to the point he found himself in on Saturday night. Signed as a backup in 2015, Greiss was one of the biggest reasons why the Islanders advanced to the Second Round during the 2016 playoffs. This year he found himself as the backup once again as Semyon Varlamov started all but one of the team’s playoff games before Game 7.
Still, the circumstances found Barry Trotz turning to the 34-year-old keeper in another historic moment.
“It’s awesome,” Greiss said about delivering another franchise milestone. The ever-humble Greiss quickly pivoted the focus away from himself.
“It’s about the guys in the room,” he continued. “We all compete for each other. It’s a great achievement for the whole team and the fans. I’m happy I could help.”
It should be no surprise that Greiss didn’t pontificate more on his role in Game 7, but he certainly deserves to take a bow for the way he’s handled his appearances this series against the Flyers.
“It’s awesome. With the guys in the room, we all compete for each other. It’s a great achievement for the whole team and for the fans. I’m happy to help.”
More from Greiss and Nelson after tonight’s dub! ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/11MnhUf1sS
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 6, 2020
Greiss came in relief for Varlamov in Game 2 after the Russian netminder surrendered three goals in the first period. Greiss played lights out the rest of the way and only allowed one goal.
He followed that up with a 36 save effort in Game 4 as the Islanders took a then commanding 3-1 series lead. We all know what happened after that.
So when faced with the decision to stick with Varlamov or mix things up, Trotz had the confidence that he could turn to Greiss in a do-or-die situation.
“You have a lot of trust in Thomas and Varly,” Trotz. “We wouldn’t be at this point without both those guys. Thomas came in and won two games, but I was looking for some freshness. I also knew that with Greisser, just his demeanor he’d be a good choice for us. Like I said, we’ve been blessed with two goalies and you try to ride the hot guy as long as you can. Then if you have to go to the next guy you do that.”
— Andrew Battifarano (@AndrewAtBatt) September 6, 2020
Greiss became the first Islanders netminder since Chico Resch in 1975 to pick up a shutout in a Game 7. He also became the first goalie in the NHL to make 16 or fewer saves since Boston’s Gilles Gilbert did so in 1976.
The victory was Greiss’ second of the postseason this year he now is 7-7 lifetime in the playoffs.
“Anytime a goalie gets a shutout in a Game 7 you have to give it to him,” Scott Mayfield said about Greiss. “He played unbelievable. Some big saves and just the way he came after not playing a couple. There was kind of some talk about who was going to be in net and he got the nod, and he ran with it.
“I couldn’t be more happy for him. Great teammate, great guy.”
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